Introduction into the FEM

Basics of the Finite Element Method


The Finite Element Method (FEM) is probably the most popular numerical method for solving partial differential equations and is widely used in engineering. It is based on the subdivision of the structure considered into small, but finite small regions of simple geometry, for which the respective differential equations are approximately solved in a closed way. This solution is based on individual, i.e. discrete degrees of freedom of the structure and fulfills in parallel essential physical laws in an integral way. In the lecture, these laws are the equilibrium conditions.

For the introduction of the Finite Element Method, the course is limited to two-dimen­sional problems that can be idealized with the help of bar and beam elements. Further topics are:

  • requirements for and forms of usual Finite Elements software,
  • mathematical und physical basics,
  • bar, beam-, and bar-beam elements,
  • influence of thermal expansion,
  • model additions from multibody systems,
  • coordinate transformations,
  • treatment of entire models, bearing conditions and statical indeterminacy.

The aim of the course is to understand the most important theoretical foundations of the Finite Element method, to get to know the most important tools and to gain an insight into the handling of this numerical method.


Finite Element Model of the SOFIA telescope
Finite Element Model of the SOFIA telescope
Weekly amount:

Semester frequency:
Target group:
Jörg F. Wagner
2 h lecture (in German)
1 h additional exercises (optional)
Every summer semester or upon request
Master students of Aerospace Engineering as of 1st sem.
Technical Mechanics 1 to 2,
Higher Mathematics 1 to 3



Chair of Flight Measuring Technology

Pfaffenwaldring 31, D-70569 Stuttgart

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